Wednesday, November 18, 2009

English Toffee

This is a classic favorite we have been making for years. The most important thing is to use an accurate candy thermometer or have a solid grip on the cold water test. If it's not brought all the way to 320 degrees, it will be more taffy than toffee and a filling breaker at that!
1# butter - melted
1# sugar (about 2 cups) - granulated
4 oz water
stir together in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. attach a candy thermometer on the side and cook over med heat until mixture registers 310 degrees (the top side of Hard Crack Stage) immediately pour onto a sheetpan fitted with a parchment paper liner... tilt pan slightly to distibute, or smooth carefully with a spatula, work quickly! Let cool about 10 minutes until sugar is hard, but still hot. sprinkle on chocolate chips (we use semi sweet, though Dark or milk would work here, too) It takes about 2 cups. Let sit until chocolate is shiny, about 15 minutes. spread melted chips smooth (an offset spatula works great for this) and sprinkle on finely chopped nuts (we use pecans, but again, you could use walnuts or even slivered almonds) let cool completely. A quick trip to the fridge once it's room temp will help set the chocolate and firm things up. Break into pieces and package as desired. Will keep in an airtight container for 2 months...unless it's at my house!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Roast Chicken

We make alot of roast chicken...not something we serve here at the bakery, necessarily, but it is a staple on our dinner repetoire when asked to cater casual dinners...not to mention for chicken soup...which we made 3 times last week now that flu has hit town!
We buy free range, mostly, often organic,( but sometimes we can't justify the doubled price tag.)
Start by rinsing chicken well and pat dry lightly with paper towel let sit to air dry a moment while you prepare the mirepoix base.
This one has onion, celery and sweet potato

line the bottom of your roasting pan with the aromatics and place the chickens on top.
Core and cut into thick slices, one green apple and stuff it into the cavity
rub the skins with olive oil and sprinkle with a healthy layer of salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill
Add any spices you wish to this layer...thyme is a favorite
Fold the cavity closed and pull the legs together over the opening. use a 6" skewer to keep the legs together
(Some folks insist trussing is the only way, but, we think this works as well)
Pour about an inch of water into the bottom of the pan and place in a preheated 350 dgree oven (moderate heat)
uncovered. depending on the size of your bird, it will take 1 1/2 to two hours to roast. It should register 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer when done. (or the leg will pull away easily and the juices run clear) Let rest 15 minutes before carving.

This is where the brick oven really shines. It makes some lovely breads, it's true, but meats roasted this way are spectacular!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lemonade...a little summer in a glass!

We are not big soda people around here...we don't sell anything in a can or bottle actually. We make ice tea and all the steamers and the coffee drinks possible, but when people want something cold and refreshing...we give them our homemade lemonade. I originally found the recipe for this in an old Joy of cooking and I loved the fact that it used all the lemon...skins and all. In the end, the rinds all sugared and dried, have become the most popular part! I have to say, the lemonade itself is pretty darn good, too!

Using a potato peeler, peel the lemons, being careful to only take off the yellow skin, leaving the bitter white pith behind.

Put in a pot with sugar and water and gently bring to a simmer...cook 10 minutes until sugar is very well dissolved and rinds are transparent and curly.

While the above mixture simmers, juice the lemons. once syrup is done, cool slightly and strain into the juice. That is your lemonade concentrate. Take the rinds and sprinkle with granulated sugar to coat. spread out on parchment paper and let dry.
To assemble, fill a glass half way with ice, the water to an inch or so from the top then top off with your concentrate. (we use about 3 ounces of concentrate in a 16 ounce glass) Put your dried lemon peel on top, and you have summer in a glass!

p.s. It goes great with gin or tequila, for a little after work refresher!
p.s.s. You could also do this with limes...marguarita's anyone?
p.s.s.s. Big Thanks to Donna Turner Ruhlman for her allowing me to ask the silliest of photography questions ("Yes, a white card is just that...a white card! Who knew!) and for sharing her knowledge with so much encouragement!